By Amnon Straschnov, former Tel Aviv District Court judge
If I were Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, I would summon myself to an urgent meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and tell him the following:
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Mr. Prime Minister, the moment of truth has arrived. Up until recently, I believed all the investigations launched against you would end in nothing—not because there isn’t anything, but because they wouldn’t be able to prove anything.
But following the recent developments in Case 4000 and state’s witnesses Ari Harow, Shlomo Filber and Nir Hefetz, the picture has changed.
According to the investigation material piling up on my desk, it’s very likely that at the end of the day and at the end of the prolonged investigations, you will be indicted—whether for bribery, breach of trust or violation of the Public Service (Gifts) Law.
So I would recommend, Mr. Prime Minister, that you quit your post as early as now, put the keys on the table and say to the public: “That’s it. I served the people and the state for many years with a considerable amount of success, and now it’s time to retire. The economic situation I leave behind is positive (look at the number of people arriving at and departing from Ben-Gun Airport on every holiday and every day; look at the number of new cars rolling—with difficulty, mind you—on Israel’s roads). The security situation isn’t bad either compared to the situation around us, and don’t forget the fence that was built along the border with Egypt and is preventing infiltrators from entering.”
I believe, Mr. Netanyahu, that an early retirement at this time won’t only benefit Israel, it holds quite a few personal advantages for you too. As private people, you and your wife would be permitted to receive as many gifts and benefits from friends and non-friends as you want (cigars, champagne, watches, jewelry and more) without it being considered an offense. You would also be able to know who your real friends are, who gives you gifts without expecting anything in return.
If you quit voluntarily right now, Mr. Prime Minister, I have no doubt that the apple of your eye—the media—will change its attitude towards you as well, and that you will receive sympathetic articles and reports. Once you quit, you will likely soon become the underdog that the media like to flatter. Moreover, the media will immediately start comparing you to your successor, and one day you will hear people say in the streets of Jerusalem, “We miss Bibi.”
My advice to you, Mr. Prime Minister, is that you ignore the coalition parties’ support, as they will soon realize that your rule is unstable and rush to find you a replacement. And don’t be too impressed with the words of praise and glorification you are being showered with by the tongue-clickers—Dudi Amsalem, Miri Regev, Miki Zohar and others. At the end of the day, they too identify with the famous saying, “A leopard can’t change his spots.”
Therefore, I suggest, Mr. Prime Minister, that you leave the neglected and rickety residence on Balfour Street before it’s too late and move to your spacious, fancy residence in Caesarea (yet another retirement advantage). That way, you would be sparing both yourself and us the never-ending investigation saga.
When that happens, I will make an effort to put an end to your affairs by closing the cases or, at least, settling for a symbolic indictment and a suspended sentence.
You’re a smart man, Mr. Prime Minister. That’s indisputable, even if you and your wife seem to suffer from an “irresistible impulse,” as jurists would put it, when it comes to money and benefits.
My suggestion is that you follow the example of late President Ezer Weizmann, who sensibly quit his post as president in the wake of the Weizmann-Saroussi affair before it was too late, without being prosecuted.
And, God forbid, should you end up like former President Moshe Katsav, who foolishly rejected an extremely simple plea bargain offered to him by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, to settle for minor offenses and a suspended sentence, and was sentenced instead to seven years in prison.
Consider yourself warned!
Amnon Straschnov is a former Tel Aviv District Court judge.